I was over six weeks pregnant when I noticed the pink stain in my underwear.
Not red or rust. Pink.
I tried not to think about it too much. It was my first pregnancy after all, and I didn’t want to be one of those paranoid first-timers. So I went shopping with my mom as previously arranged, and tried hard not to think about it.
But the next morning the blood was bright red, and I thought I was going to die from the cramps. I’d never felt anything like it in my life. My mom took me to the doctor where I couldn’t control my tears as I waited with my eyes glued to all the swollen pregnant bellies.
Why are you here? The nurse snapped at me.
I think I’m having a . . . Surely she wasn’t going to make me say the word. A . . . miscarriage.
The doctor didn’t even see me. She just ordered blood tests to see if my hCG was leveling out to zero. It did.
I lay on my couch for three days crying. We had already been trying for six months. I had already taken two rounds of the fertility drug Clomid. It seemed so easy for everyone else, and I believed it would be easy for me.
So why wasn’t it?
For nine more months we tried. Nine more months of negative pregnancy tests. I withdrew further and further away from my friends and social circles.
One evening, I had a panic attack over going to a function at my husband’s former high school because I knew we would be seated at a table with a woman who had the same due date as I would have had.
I had no one to talk to. I felt broken and defective. What seemed the simplest thing in the world was eluding me, and I didn’t know why.
On the same day that I visited my best friend and her beautiful newborn daughter in the hospital, my husband and I had our first appointment with the fertility doctor. Five months later, I was pregnant with our twins.
Eleven months after they were born, through an “accidental-on-purpose-experiment,” I got pregnant with our third child.
I wasn’t broken after all! I could do it the old-fashioned way!
When that baby was a year old, I got pregnant again. I saw the little bean sprout and the heartbeat, and was ecstatic that all of my children would be so close in age.
At nearly twelve weeks, I started spotting again. And one morning I felt it: I felt the fetus leave my body. I stared at it for two days in my toilet, not wanting to flush it, but too scared to retrieve it and take it to the doctor.
I felt as if it would betray me. ‘See, she IS defective. She shouldn’t be allowed to have more babies. She took the first two, and the third was a fluke. Look at what she did to me. She shouldn’t have any more babies.’
But the thing was that I desperately wanted more. My dreams of having a big family were being flushed down the toilet (by my husband under my orders) as I sat crying over the noise of the washing machine. Maybe my first three babies were flukes, and this was it.
But I went on to have another healthy baby boy.
Then my oldest son was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and any dreams of having more children were terminated as well.
Midway through Joey’s illness, I learned I was pregnant again. My first thought was, ‘God, no, please.’ What if I had the baby right when Joey was at his most gravely ill? How would I care for a newborn and a dying child at the same time?
A trip to the doctor revealed . . . nothing. She found no heartbeat, not even a tiny little bean sprout. I would have thought the pregnancy test was wrong had I not experienced heavier bleeding than normal. This time, I was relived; though, there was still that nagging feeling that I am somehow defective.
That was why, three months after Joey died and I became pregnant again, I prayed for a miscarriage.
I actually wanted to lose the baby. I felt certain there would be something wrong with it, and I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to handle it.
But, again, I had a perfect, beautiful son, my fifth.
My journey to motherhood has taken me from hope and excitement to pain and sadness. From fear and shame to joy and satisfaction. I don’t necessarily consider myself a mother of eight; although, I still think a lot about that first baby I lost. She (I know it would have been a she) would have changed everything. I would never have had my twins, and we never would have been through cancer.
I think about every experience with my fertility a lot, but I don’t consider myself broken anymore. I consider myself a mother.